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Bruce Eder [allmusic.com]
Leo Kottke's seventh album is a dazzling amalgam of sounds and styles -- there's a surprising emphasis on vocal numbers here, beginning with ''Standing on the Outside'' and ''Power Failure'' (a Procol Harum number, no less), that show him off singing with a full band in a light country-ish vein, followed by ''Venezuela, There You Go,'' a loping instrumental that incorporates some nimble-textured slide guitar to great effect in its opening bars. Then it's back to a vocal idiom with a slow, powerful, bluesy rendition of Marty Robbins' ''Don't You Think,'' on which Bill Barber's piano shares the spotlight with Kottke's singing. Some of the rest, like ''Monkey Money,'' don't meld his guitar and the band as well, and as good as the Robbins song is, the virtues of this album lie in its leaner instrumentals. The obvious attempt on Chewing Pine to sell Kottke as more of a mainstream artist and a sometime singer obviously didn't work, as this closed out his contract with Capitol Records (apart from one subsequent compilation). It also says something about how the artist himself and his admirers feel; only a single track off of Chewing Pine, the shimmering, fingerpicking instrumental ''The Scarlatti Rip-Off,'' earned a place on his Rhino anthology. There are enough good moments, and even a few transcendent ones, to justify owning this album.